JUBA, South Sudan (Morning Star News) – The Sudanese government’s bombing of predominantly Christian, ethnic Nuba civilians in South Kordofan state has taken more lives the first three months of this year – possibly including Muslims, sources said.
Two civilians were killed and 12 seriously wounded on March 19 when a Sudan government Antonov airplane dropped bombs on them in the Hadra area, local sources told Morning Star News. The identities and religion of those killed and wounded were not available, but there are some Muslim Nuba people in the area, they said.
The government’s Russian-made Antonov airplanes dropped bombs that killed six Christians on Jan. 9 and destroyed a church building on March 11, sources said. Since South Sudan split from Sudan in a 2011 referendum, Nuba people in Sudan’s South Kordofan state believe the government’s goal of quashing Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) rebels is also meant to rid the area of non-Arabs and Christianity.
The March 11 bombing in the Angolo area reduced the Evangelical Church building to ashes, sources said. A store attached to the church building was also destroyed, but no injuries were reported.
“The bombardment took place while believers were away from church that day,” a Christian leader from the area said by phone.
In Dabi, one of the Jan. 9 bombs hit as Christians were holding a worship service in a home, area sources said; three of those present were killed, but only one, Simon Juma, was identified. Another bomb from the same plane fell near the house of a member of the Sudanese Church of Christ, Krna Tutu, instantly killing a mother and her two sons, an area Christian leader said.
Online news portal Nuba Reports, run by aid worker Ryan Boyette, who remained in South Kordofan after his Christian humanitarian organization was forced to evacuate after military conflict escalated in 2011, reported that Sudan dropped eight bombs on Dabi on Jan. 9, the town’s market day, killing 58-year-old Abdu Jadaih and wounding seven others, including a 68-year-old woman, Nadia Arna, whose leg was severed by shrapnel.
“These bombardments are major sources of fear among the people in South Kordofan,” a church leader who recently returned from the region told Morning Star News.
Bombings in February destroyed cattle and several homes and injured at least two people, and previously unknown attacks on Christmas Day have also come to light. A source who recently returned from the region said one bomb hit the home of Ayoub Kodi, an evangelist in the Koda area, injuring him. Also on Dec. 25, an Antonov bomber destroyed the house of Basama Kodi of the Episcopal Church of Sudan in the area.
Since military conflict began in June 2011, the Sudanese military has bombed Nuba churches, schools and farms, with most civilian deaths taking place where witnesses reportedly told Human Rights Watch there was no evident military target or rebel soldier.
Thousands of civilians have reportedly taken refuge in Nuba Mountain caves in South Kordofan, which borders South Sudan. The Nuba people have longstanding complaints against Khartoum – including neglect, oppression and forced conversions to Islam in a 1990s jihad – but as Sudanese citizens on the northern side of the border, they were never given the option of secession in the 2005 peace pact between northern and southern Sudan.
The SPLA-N rebels in the Nuba Mountains were formerly involved with the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) forces fighting Khartoum before the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The SPLA’s political arm, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), now governs South Sudan, and a border conflict has kept the two Sudans on the verge of another full-scale war since June 2011. The growing rebel movement in the Nuba Mountains has sparked tensions, and Sudan reportedly bombed civilians in the South Sudan state of North Bahr El Ghazal on Nov. 20-22, killing seven.
Fighting between Sudan and South Sudan broke out in June 2011, when Khartoum forcefully attempted to disarm the SPLA-N in South Kordofan by force rather than awaiting a process of disarmament as called for in the CPA. When the CPA was signed in 2005, the people of South Kordofan were to vote on whether to join the north or the south, but the state governor suspended the process.
The disputed election of Ahmed Haroun as state governor – many in South Kordofan consider him a Khartoum appointment – helped trigger military conflict in 2011.
Nuba Mountain Christians increasingly feel they are being driven into South Sudan, especially as Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has said post-secession Sudan will adhere more exclusively to Islam and Arabic culture.
At the same time, near the capital city of Khartoum, a continuing wave of arrests of workers at Christian organizations has deeply unsettled the Christian community (see Morning Star News, Feb. 22). A force composed of both police and National Intelligence and Security Services on Feb. 25 arrested five Christian from three Christian ministries in Omdurman, Khartoum’s twin city on the other side of the Nile River, sources said.
The workers were released shortly after their arrests but must report regularly to the NISS office.
“The situation is tense for Christians,” a source said. “But thank God He hears the prayers of His children around the world.”
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